10
Dec

What A Bunch Of Lazy Pelicans

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under BTS, Keatley Christmas, Personal Work

Every year I get more and more excited to create and show our annual family picture.  It’s hard to believe this is the 4th year we have done this!  Each year has felt like a different process, and the one comment I get more than anything else is, “Where do you come up with this stuff?”  I like how the concept for this year’s picture came about, and thought it would be fun to share the story with you.

This fall, our family vacationed on the Washington coast for a week, which was pretty amazing. On a number of days, we noticed there were hundreds of pelicans and seagulls standing on the beach, staring out at the ocean for up to 7 hours at a time it seemed.  Not that I was timing them or anything.  I had better things to do than worry about how long birds stayed on the beach.  But seriously, get a job you lazy birds.  Nobody could figure out what the heck they were doing out there just staring at the ocean.  One day I went for a long walk on the beach.  Every once in a while a wave would wash over a sand dune, and these tiny fish would get beached for a few seconds until the next wave washed over and they swam away.  After seeing that, I’m guessing those lazy birds were just sitting on the beach, waiting for a free lunch.  The pelican equivalent of day drinking panhandlers.

On the last day of vacation, I got it in my head that I wanted to create an image with a bunch of birds in it.  As much as I had grown to resent their laziness and lack of drive, I took my camera down to the beach with my sister, and tried to sneak up as close as possible to get some pictures.  Well, aside from being extremely lazy, these pelicans are also very cynical with some serious trust issues.  I don’t know if I could get closer than 75 feet to them without every single bird flying away.  Talk about bird issues…

Our daughter Isla does this really cute thing, where she puts her hands out in front of her like a T-Rex, and bobs up and down while she takes big steps toward the person she is going to “scare”.  My sister joked that it was too bad we didn’t have a pelican costume for Isla, so she could sneak up and get closer to the birds.  That was it.  The clouds opened up, I heard angels singing, and I saw God smiling at me.  Thanks to my brilliant sister, Allison, I knew what had to be done for the 2012 Keatley Family Picture.  With a new focus and determination like never before, I came up with all kinds of tactics to get the lazy birds to fly in all different directions, and I shot about 1,000 images of birds for the next 30 minutes or so.

Once back home, I began researching costumes and decided I wanted them to look frumpy and not very realistic.  The idea was not to make us look like actual pelicans, but that it would be overly obvious we were in these sad costumes, which at least some of us did not want to be in.

I would like to thank my family for putting up with the things I ask them to do and wear for these pictures.  Isla, I swear you will thank me in 20 or 30 years.  Thanks to my sister,Allison, and her husband, Simon, for helping me chase and herd birds on the beach like a bunch of crazy people.  Thanks to Nichelle’s mom, Denise, for making the perfectly frumpy costumes, and thanks to one of my best friends Ian Goode, from Gigantic Squid, who made the retouching magic happen.  Thank you for your interest in my work, it’s a blessing to get to do this for a living.  Until next time, Merry Christmas, and Happy Holidays to all.  Thanks for stopping by, I hope you enjoyed this as much as I did.

Below is a little collection of images from this project.  The first group of beach and bird pictures are a few of the images used to create the environment.  The second grouping is a little behind the scenes look at the human / pelican studio shoot, and the final group contains some of my favorite outtakes that didn’t make the cut.  Enjoy.

13
Sep

Ferran Adria for Wired UK

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under BTS, Celebrity, Editorial Work, Tear Sheets, Travel

October Cover of Wired UK.  Ferran Adria by John Keatley.

For many people, Ferran Adria needs no introduction, but for those of you who are not familiar with Ferran, he is one of the most innovative chefs and people in recent history.  He has been on Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people list multiple times.  His restaurant El Bulli was the best restaurant in the world until he shut it down in 2011 at the peak of it’s success, with the idea of reinventing it.  Not many people have the vision and willingness to take great risks the way Ferran does, and that is a big part of what this feature is about.

This assignment came up very quickly, and within 3 days of getting the call, I was off to Barcelona.  Aside from creating some awesome images, my secondary goal was food.  Get food.  Just a piece of cheese or a scrap of bread would suffice.  To be able to say I was handed food from Ferran Adria, that would be pretty cool.

Right off the bat, I want to thank and acknowledge the creative team at Wired UK.  The Photo Editors, Dalia Nassimi and Steve Peck, Art Director Andrew Diprose, and Executive Editor Greg Williams.  Greg and Andrew also traveled to Barcelona for this shoot, and we first met up with Ferran at El Bulli Workshop not far from our hotel in Barcelona.  It was a busy morning between meetings, the interview and photo shoot, but we worked with Ferran in small chunks of time throughout the day.  Ferran is one of the most meticulous and driven people I have ever met.  As you can see from some of these images, his attention to detail and planning is second to none.  Every room in his workshop as well as his kitchens are lined with whiteboards covered in notes, diagrams, and plans.  His spice rack at El Bulli Workshop is so thought out, he probably knows how many grains of salt are in the salt jar.  Perhaps most impressive was the play dough portion size and design templates for each meal he has created.  Nothing is left to chance.  His passion for his work and innovation also seem to be very contagious, because everyone he works with seems to completely buy in.  I was able to learn some of this before the shoot through my research, but it is never as fun as the real deal.  It was really amazing to pull some of the intensity and passion out of him, as you can see in these images.

Ferran now has a new tapas bar with his brother, Albert, in Barcelona called Tickets.  From what we had gathered, it is quite an experience in it’s own right, with an impressive menu, including several famous dishes from El Bulli.  It’s also next to impossible to get in to.  Greg brought up the idea of getting a table during the photo shoot, but we were told it just wasn’t possible.  While Ticket’s would have been the ultimate dining experience, we were in Barcelona after all, and Ferran recommended some of his favorite tapas bars and restaurants to us, which were all amazing.  Later that evening, we caught up with Ferran at a local museum which has a wonderful exhibit on the history of El Bulli.  They closed the museum down, and we got a private tour from Ferran.

We had 2 days of shooting scheduled with Ferran, and after a long and eventful day one, we got up early the next morning and drove a couple of hours outside Barcelona to El Bulli.  It is still closed as a restaurant, but currently is filled with computer programmers and large white boards of plans and code.  Big changes are coming to El Bulli before it re-opens in 2014.  Going out there, we knew the kitchen was closed, so we were not expecting food, but we were also not expecting the surprise Ferran had instore for us. Ferran pulled Greg, Andrew, and myself over to a corner of the outdoor patio and brought us into a tight circle.  He held out 3 fingers, looked at us in the eyes, and said, “9:00 tonight, Tickets for the 3 of you.”  Kids at Christmas!  We were through the roof.  More on that below.

This issue  has only been out about a week now, and we are already seeing this cover being recognized as one of the best covers of 2012.  Pretty exciting to be a part of that, and an honor to work with AD Andrew Diprose, who is one of the best in the industry.

Wired UK table of contents.  Ferran Adria by John Keatley

Wired UK opening spread on Ferran Adria.  Photo by John Keatley.

Portrait of Ferran Adria by John Keatley.

Portrait of Ferran Adria by John Keatley.

Ferran Adria at El Bulli Workshop.  Photo by John Keatley.
Ferran at El Bulli Workshop talking with two of his computer programmers, who are working on some exciting new developments for the El Bulli brand.

Ferran Adria by John Keatley.

John Keatley, Ferran Adria.
Working with Ferran on the how best to hold the E, and balancing it with the proper way to hold a knife and cut.  Pictured with Ferran’s interpreter, Andrew Diprose and myself.

Ferran Adria and John Keatley.

Ferran Adria and John Keatley.

Ferran Adria and John Keatley.

Ferran Adria and John Keatley.

Ferran Adria and John Keatley.

El Bulli kitchen
El Bulli kitchen during the remodel / reinvention of El Bulli.

El Bulli food.
Portion sizes and shapes of all ingredients served at El Bulli made out of Play-dough.

El Bulli food.

El Bulli food.
Two dishes served at El Bulli made from Play-dough, next to a photograph of the actual dish.

El Bulli food.

Below are pictures I took of our meal at Tickets.  In all of the excitement and euphoria, there were several dishes I forgot to photograph.  That being said, here are quite a few images of many of the amazing things I got to eat that night.  Our server’s name was Claudia, and she added so much to the experience.  We didn’t feel qualified to order, so we told her to bring whatever she wanted to serve us.  She talked to us quite a bit throughout the night, and brought the dishes in an order that flowed and paired flavors.  Ferran even came in to say hi and introduce us to his brother Albert.  It was by far the most amazing food experience I have ever had.  We asked the concierge at our hotel for walking directions to Tickets before we left, and he told us he could make several other restaurant recommendations because we would not be able to get in.  Greg tried to explain that we had reservations, but he just laughed at us.  Silly tourists.

Watermelon infused with sangria
Watermelon infused with sangria

The Olive-S
The Olive-S

Tickets food

Tomato bread
Tomato bread

Tickets food

Mini airbags stuffed with manchego cheese
Mini airbags stuffed with manchego cheese

Tickets food

Tomato tartar cone
Tomato tartar cone

Codium tempura with it's vinagrete jus
Codium tempura with it’s vinaigrette jus

Oranges in olive juice with mint
Oranges in olive juice with mint

Avocado cannelloni with crab and romesco sauce
Avocado cannelloni with crab and romesco sauce

Tickets food

Marinated fried fish
Marinated fried fish

Fried egg with truffled duck fat and potato cream
Fried egg with truffled duck fat and potato cream

Confit potatoes with pork rib jus and boiled iberian ham
Confit potatoes with pork rib jus and boiled iberian ham

Liquid ravioli of Payoyo cheese
Liquid ravioli of Payoyo cheese

Animated Forrest
Animated Forrest

Warm lava cake of
Warm lava cake of “turron de Jijona” with raspberry sorbet.  We ordered 2 of these.  :)

This short video about Tickets gives you an awesome behind the scenes look at the food they create and what the dining experience is like. Eating at one of Ferran’s restaurants really is about the whole experience and using all of your senses.

Wired UK AD Andrew Diprose, Ferran Adria, John Keatley, and Wired UK Executive Editor Greg Williams
Wired UK AD Andrew Diprose, Ferran Adria, John Keatley, and Wired UK Executive Editor Greg Williams

I would encourage you to pick up a copy of the October issue of Wired UK which is currently on stands.  You can also see a great documentary on Netflix called El Bulli: Cooking In Progres.  There are also hundreds of fascinating videos online of Ferran and El Bulli.  I can tell you I have already invested countless hours watching many of them.

I would like to thank everyone who worked with me on this assignment.  Dalia, Andrew, Greg, and Steve at Wired UK.  Awesome people.  Thanks to my rep Julia at Redux Pictures for all her support and hard work on the backend to make this all happen.  Thanks to Gigantic Squid for the awesome retouching.  Thanks for stopping by and enjoying my work.

06
Sep

Wexley School For Girls In The Nude

Posted by Izzy / Filed under BTS

Cal McAllister of Wexley School For Girls. Photo by John Keatley.
Cal McAllister / Co-Founder and CEO

Gabe Hajiani of Wexley School For Girls. Photo by John Keatley.
Gabe Hajiani / Production Director

Stephanie Peirolo of Wexley School For Girls. Photo by John Keatley.
Stephanie Peirolo / Director of Strategic Partnerships

Christine Wise of Wexley School For Girls. Photo by John Keatley.
Christine Wise / Director of Planning and Strategy

Ian Cohen of Wexley School For Girls. Photo by John Keatley.
Ian Cohen / Co-Founder and CCO

Todd Grant of Wexley School For Girls. Photo by John Keatley.
Todd Grant / CCD

One word sums up the experience of working with the team at the Seattle based ad agency, Wexley School for Girls: AWESOME.  The long and short of it, is that these guys and gals are a riot, and life is never dull when working or hanging out with Wexley.  They never so much as bat an eyelash when John shows up asking them to take their shirts off, dress up in chicken costumes, sprawl across the baby grand, or any other fantastically strange idea John has thrown at them over the years.  Well, actually, not everyone was on board with this concept off the bat, but everyone came around eventually after a good pep talk.

Most business executives need headshots for speaking, press, articles, etc., and the leaders at Wexley are no different.  These portraits are of the Wexley senior leadership team. As you can see, not only are they all pretty much topless, but they have Sara Coates and I smashing and manipulating their faces with our hands.  At least the men do.  The women got a couple of male interns to stand in, and it just so happened to be their first day on the job.  It was awesome, and one of those shoots where we were laughing so hard we cried a little.  Some people may have cried from awkwardness too, but it can be hard to tell the difference sometimes.  Thanks Wexley for being great sports, and for working with us to create such awesome photography.  I like to think this kind of work is the stuff that stands the test of time.

These pictures have already received some of the greatest comments on Facebook.  It’s almost like a social experiment the way some people are so confused  by these portraits.  ”They aren’t really going to use those for press are they?”  Yes, yes they are.

Here is a quick behind the scenes video of the shoot.  Can’t wait to see what happens next time.

Thanks team Wexley, and thanks as always to Gigantic Squid for retouching!

29
May

Coffee Face Campaign

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under BTS, Personal Work

Coffee Face personal shoot by advertising photographer John Keatley.

Coffee Face personal shoot by advertising photographer John Keatley.

Coffee Face personal shoot by advertising photographer John Keatley.

Can you relate?  You wake up in a haze, thinking a cup of coffee will do the trick. Trying to start your day out on the right foot, but instead you get a mouthful of bitter disappointment.

I had several goals pinned on the wall as I began the process of putting together this personal series. Shoot in detailed environments. Experiment with backlight where a light source is visible, or has a prominent role in the image.  And finally, have fun with facial expressions.  That was the easy part.  The hard part was coming up with the concept to make all of the elements come together. Gives you a whole new appreciation for copywriters and art directors!
Thankfully I work with some incredible people, and after some brainstorming, the bad coffee face idea was born.

So how does a personal shoot like this come together? A lot of hard work, and a crew of talented and creative people. The car shoot was the first of the three, and this BTS video by Eric Becker is a good walkthrough of what it all looks like on set.

The second shoot was the kitchen image.  Locating and securing the home was by far the most difficult part. After finding and locking in the location, we received a text the night before the shoot, which said it was no longer happening with no explanation.  I knew that kitchen was perfect for this shot, so after a lot of leg work and negotiating, we were back on track.   There is a certain mindset I feel is invaluable and absolutely necessary to make it as a photographer.  Tattoo these phrases on your arm, and never forget them.  No excuses, always ask questions, politely don’t take no for an answer, and do whatever it takes to make it work. There is always a solution, no matter what the problems you are faced with.  Wrapping your mind around these ideas will help prepare you for the struggles you are guaranteed to face as a photographer on almost a daily basis.

I wrapped this series up with the park bench shot.  I scouted several parks in Seattle until I found a bench I really liked.  It ended up being in a large forested park, which was a perfect place to shoot.  The permit was affordable, and it was a wide open space without crowd’s of people and traffic to worry about.  After the shoot with the bench and model, I woke up at sunrise the next day, and shot around an urban neighborhood near downtown Seattle.  It is important to make sure the light and angles of the environment match the light on the bench and model so the finished product looks as realistic as possible.  I made sure all of the landscape images I shot had the sun in the correct place according to where I placed lights on the model shoot.  I also used a tripod so my camera height and angle was the same as it was during the model shoot.

I love working like this because it gives me complete control of the final image without being restricted by certain realities.

Thanks to my awesome crew for helping make this project shine.
Talent: JJ Kissinger, Gabe Rodriguez, Katelyn Price
Production: Elizabeth Atwood
Retouching: Ian Goode / Gigantic Squid
Assistants: Will Foster, Gregg White, Oliver Ludlow
BTS video and stills: Eric Becker
Hair and Makeup: Cara Aeschliman
Wardrobe: Bryan Carle

Thank you’s also go out to Seattle Parks and Rec and Windermere Capitol Hill.

22
Jan

Drinks With Murray Stenson

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under BTS, Editorial Work, Tear Sheets

I hinted at a fun assignment I was working on last month on Twitter, and now I am excited to to be able to share the images with you.  I had a lot of catching up to do when I first got the assignment to photograph Murray Stenson from Art Director Jane Sherman at Seattle Weekly, but it didn’t take long for me to find out that Murray is widely regarded as the best bartender in the country.  Don’t believe me?Just ask Esquire, Playboy and Tales of the Cocktail.  It felt like when you get a new car, and all of a sudden you realize that just about everyone else on the road has the same car as you.  As soon as I got this assignment, it seemed like everyone I knew was going out to get a drink from Murray.  Apparently I was the last person to know.  I was quite excited to not only photograph Murray, but to also have a drink from him.

I did the shoot at Canon, which is a new bar in Seattle where Murray works, along with an all-star group of bartenders led by Jamie Boudreau who is also the owner.  There is a bit of a wait to get in, but I can tell you the wait is well worth it.  I filmed a short video of Murray mixing and explaining how to make an Absinthe Julep, which you can see below.  And yes, I did get to drink it after we were done filming.  Someone had to, and I didn’t want it to go to waste.  We did have to do 2 takes, but thankfully my assistant handled the second one since we were dealing with 124 proof.  For what it’s worth, I made sure the video was the last thing we did so my pictures wouldn’t be out of focus.

Although Murray has been written up in many other magazines, this article is the first time he has told his story.  It was written by Mike Seely, and is a really fascinating read.  Here is the link to the article if you are interested.  Along with the video, I also included a few behind the scenes pictures at the bottom.

Thanks to Jane Sherman for working with me on this, and thanks to Murray and Jamie for being such gracious hosts and subjects.  Photo retouching by the fine folks at Gigantic Squid.

Behind the scenes pictures by Lonnie Webb.

21
Sep

I’ve Been Framed

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under BTS, Press & Interviews, Videos

Thank you to everyone who wrote in and asked the fine folks at FRAMED to do an interview with me. It was very flattering to get the call to do this, and fun to spend the day with Melissa and the whole crew. I am blown away by what a great job they did with this video from top to bottom. They actually made me look somewhat respectable, which is no small feat.  In about 15 years, when Isla is an unruly teenager, I am going to make her watch this video, and then I will look her in the eyes, and say, “Respect”.

I know that 36 minute ticker may scare some of you, but I got several comments and emails today from people who said they didn’t plan on watching more than three minutes, and ended up getting sucked in and watched the whole thing.  Hopefully that is incentive enough to press play.  Even if you only have time for three minutes.  There are no axes, or wood carving in this video, but there are a couple of pretty funny moments with a (Spoiler Alert!) karate master.  Which reminds me, I am really excited you get to meet some of my creative companions who pop up in the video as well.

As always, thanks so much for your interest and support of my work.  It means a lot to me, and thank you again to FRAMED!

21
Jul

MiiR Commercial Production Stills

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under BTS

Just wrapped up filming my first commercial, shot for MiiR, with my co-director Eric Becker of We Are Shouting.  It was a really fun shoot and the footage is looking great.  We are hoping to have everything wrapped up in the next week.  For now, here are some of the production stills by Scott Everett.  Thanks Scott!  Behind every great production is a wonderful crew, and the crew on this commercial was no exception.  From left to right in the crew shot (last image) is Caven Keith, DJ, Lauri, Becker, Rodrigo, Nina Carduner, Scott Everett, Keatley, and Sarah Finkelstein.  Not pictured is our hair and makeup artist Annabelle Petry.

 

18
Jul

Keatley Liberia Video

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under BTS, Videos

I feel really good about this video, and I think it presents an honest look at my trip to Liberia with MiiR this past January.  Several of my images were recently selected in the 2011 PDN Faces contest, and I thought this would be a good excuse to put together a video that shows a little more of what the experience was like and how the images came together.  I cannot say enough about my editor for this video, Andy Maier.  He put so much thought and hard work into this, and his efforts made all the difference.  I feel blessed to be able to work with wonderfully creative people, such as Andy and everyone else I have been creating with this past year.

The man at the beginning of the video is Pastor Kondoh, and he will be coming to Seattle in just a couple of weeks for a project MiiR CEO Bryan Pape and I are working on.  I can’t wait to see him again.  This will be a trip of many firsts for him, including his first time out of Africa, and his first time on an airplane.  Without sounding like a tease, I do have a little bit of freedom to talk more about the project I referred to above.  You can hear about it in greater detail on the podcast interview I did with Faded & Blurred recently.  I start talking about it around minute 40.

27
Jun

Giant Cat Face

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under BTS

Photographer John Keatley helping his subject feel more comfortable with a giant cat face.

I get a lot of questions about how I work with my subjects to make them feel comfortable.  A photographer’s interactions and technique with his or her subject(s) is one of the most important aspects of a photo shoot, next to being prepared.  I have a lot of thoughts and ideas on this subject, but one idea I thought I would share today is a giant cat face.  I don’t think I need to explain why this works, but here is how you can try it out on your own.  Place a giant cat face over your left shoulder so it is facing your subject.  This will generally help your subject feel more at ease.  If they hate cats or giant cat faces, then they may not feel so comfortable, but at least you will still get some interesting expressions.  It’s a win win for you.

Here is how you can approach it.

Subject: “What’s with the giant cat face?”

Photographer: “What giant cat face?” (It’s important to pretend you don’t know what they are talking about.)

Subject: “The one right behind you, staring at me.”

Photographer: Slowly look around the room, and then discover the giant cat face.  ”Oh, that giant cat face.  Don’t worry about him.  Dante is here to help you feel more comfortable.”

There you have it.  Now you know one way to make your subject more comfortable.  Use a giant cat face.

04
May

The Woodsman Production Stills

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under BTS

A short promotional film starring yours truly is in the works.  That’s right, I am the (burly) woodsman.  Editing will wrap up in a couple of days, but in the meantime, here are some production stills to pique your interest.  I don’t think these will give away too much.  It was a really fun project, and quite a different experience being on the other side of the camera.  After holding several axes on my shoulder for extended periods of time, I was rewarded with a really deep bruise.  Acting is hard and painful!  When I got home, Nichelle punched me in the shoulder and told me to suck it up.  She keeps me grounded.

I will explain this film a little more and talk about the wonderful team I worked with when I post the video next week.

Production stills by Dylan Priest.  Pictured: Rodrigo Valenzuela, Eric Becker, Brandon Hilliard, Michelle Chappron, John Keatley, and Oliver the dog.

*UPDATE* Watch The Woodsman Video Here.